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BMW 528i (BMW)
BMW 528i (BMW)

Best of the lot

I want a mid-size luxury car for less than $65,000 Add to ...

I am looking for a mid-size luxury car that is reliable, has great acceleration and enough trunk space to hold a couple of golf bags. My budget is up to a maximum of $65,000. I’ve test driven the Mercedes-Benz E350, Audi A6 and BMW 535 and like the drive of the Audi and BMW. Would be interested in your views. Also what do you think about Volvo, Cadillac and Lincoln? – Anil in Guelph, Ont.

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Vaughan: Well that’s a long list of six cars Anil wants us to comment on, but if he’s got 65 large to blow then I’d add a seventh. Why does no one ever put the Jaguar XF ($59,800) on a list? I think it’s the most distinctive of all and it goes like a shot. The Jag is very rigid and comfortable, as well.

Jaguar XF

Cato: I’ll tell you why and in one word: reliability. Look, I want to root for Jag. It’s a storied brand with a great history and the designs – to use a British term – are smashing.

But for goodness’ sake. After a couple of years at the top of some important quality surveys, whoops… Jag in the latest J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study was ranked fifth from the bottom.

Vaughan: We’ve been through Jaguar’s factory in England, at Castle Bromwich. Lord Beaverbrook built Spitfires there during the war.

The Jag workers are now enthusiastic, energetic and seem completely focused on doing a good job. I don’t understand the Power results.

Cato: Truthfully, Jaguar’s electrics aren’t shorting, the bumpers aren’t falling off and knobs don’t pop when you turn them.

And you’re right about the XF’s design and handling.

The last time I checked, Jaguar Canada also had a $4,000 cash incentive in play. Anil, ask your dealer.

Vaughan: That’s Jag. Now let’s narrow this list down.

A fully loaded Volvo S80 goes for $53,500. A right-sized Lincoln would be the MKZ at $41,100 with all-wheel drive.

Cadillac XTS AWD

And I think that Oshawa-built Caddy, the XTS with all-wheel drive, might be a keeper. Base price: $54,135.

Cato: While we’re making lists, let me add this one: 2012 Lexus ES 350. The Lexus tied at the top of its class in Power’s 2012 Dependability study. At $42,150 it tucks nicely into Anil’s budget. Oh, wait; it gets better. Lexus has a $5,000 cash incentive out there, too.

Which brings me to the MKZ. Guess which mid-size luxury sedan was tied with the ES 350 in that very J.D. Power study? You got it. The Lincoln.

And how does up to $6,000 in cash incentives sound, Anil? You want quality and savings, those are two very nice sedans with room for golf clubs.

Vaughan: But they might be a step down for Anil. He brought up the Mercedes-Benz E350 ($63,400), the Audi A6 ($58,800) and the BMW 535 . Could be a bit of what we’ll call German snobbery at work here.

Cato: You’re the last guy I’d expect to start talking about “brand power.” Aren’t you Warren Buffett-lite, the value investor? You might be an intellectual snob, but you’re not snooty about cars and clothes.

Vaughan: There’s value in the E. It’s the heart of the brand for Mercedes and the current edition, which has been around since 2010, is the best ever.

However, Anil, take a good look at both the coupe and the cabrio. Maybe there’s not enough trunk room for you, but those two, and not the sedan, are the greatest-looking cars in the Mercedes lineup today, in my humble opinion.

Cato: Anil, if it’s the Merc you want, you’ll need the sedan for all those ball-bashers in a bag. Now here’s the choice you’ll need to make: diesel engine or AWD. The rear-drive diesel BlueTec lists for $62,700, which is less than the AWD gas car. I’d get the diesel in rear drive.

Vaughan: The AWD Audi A6 costs less than that, at $58,800. It’s the Audi with the big snout. You like it or you don’t. The “quattro” AWD system is superb, though; it puts the power just where you want it all the time. And Audi’s interiors are stunning.

Cato: But again, back to the quality issue.

Audi finished below average in the Dependability study. But then so did BMW. Not Mercedes, though; that German brand was above average.

Vaughan: So? BMW was still selling plenty of 535s, the last time I checked.

BMW 528i

Cato: I wouldn’t go for the 535. Nope. I’d take the $54,500 528i with its 2.0-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder engine.

I know it sounds odd to have a four-banger in a big BMW 5-Series, but it works: 241 hp and 258 lb-ft. Anil, if you must, you can get AWD here for $56,900.

Vaughan: The new 5-Series isn’t as edgy as 5s in the past. It’s more conservative in styling and in driving manners. But Anil, drive that Jag XF before you sign the cheque.

Cato: If you’re not into German snobbery, get the Lincoln and save 20-large.


2013 Cadillac XTS AWD2012 BMW 528i2012 Jaguar XF

Wheelbase (mm)


Length (mm)


Width (mm)


Track, front (mm)



3.6-litre V-62.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged5.0-litre V-8

Output (horsepower/torque)

304/264 lb-ft241/251 lb-ft385/380 lb-ft

Drive system

All-wheel driveRear-wheel driveRear-wheel drive


Six-speed automaticEight-speed automaticSix-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)


Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

12.5 city/7.7 highway8.6 city/5.7 highway13.1 city/8.5 highway

Base price (MSRP)


Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

You can e-mail Cato & Vaughan here: cato-vaughan@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @catocarguy

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